2018 Sorento New Car Test Drive
Redesigning for the 2016 model year gave Kia's largest crossover SUV an elegant new look. Though more generic than distinctive in appearance, the reworked Sorento fits in the heart of the crossover category.
Detail changes mark the 2018 model year, starting with enhanced headlight performance and revised front headrests. A rearview camera and automatic headlights now are standard on the base model. LX trim gains a standard third-row seat, when equipped with all-wheel drive. EX models add a hands-free power liftgate, and the EX V6 gains autonomous emergency braking.
Especially in EX trim with the turbocharged engine, the Sorento incorporates all the typical crossover-SUV characteristics. An upscale, substantial overall feel is matched by a well-damped ride and a broad choice of configurations.
Five trim levels are available: L, LX, EX, SX, and SX-L (Limited). In base L and step-up LX models, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. EX trim upgrades to a 2.0-liter turbo four that develops 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. Both engines mate with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
L and front-drive LX models have two-row seating. Others contain three rows for seven-passenger capacity.
Though it's more powerful, generating 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, Kia's V6 engine, also driving a 6-speed automatic, feels less enthusiastic than the turbo four. Optional all-wheel drive includes a locking center differential.
Crash-test scores rank highly in the crossover SUV category. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the 2018 Sorento a Top Safety Pick+, with Good scores in each crash test. However, the 'plus'? designation applies only to top models with V6 engines, whose HID xenon headlights have been rated Acceptable. Sorentos with autonomous emergency braking promise Superior frontal crash protection.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the 2018 Sorento five stars overall, along with five-star ratings for both frontal and side impacts.
Some of the latest safety technology is available, either optional or standard on upper models. All Sorentos have a rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity. Advanced safety features that can be fitted into most trim levels include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring.
Optima L ($25,800) comes with the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, two-row seating, remote keyless entry, cloth upholstery, 6-speaker CD audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, heated power mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a rearview camera. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) All trim levels except L can be equipped with all-wheel drive.
Optima LX ($27,100) adds rapid-charge USB ports, an acoustic-glass windshield, and a roof rack. All-wheel drive ($2,790) includes three-row seating.
Optima LX V6 ($29,500) substitutes the V6 engine and has three-row seating. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available ($1,800).
Optima EX ($33,000) comes with the 2.0-liter turbo, front-drive, two-row seating, 18-inch wheels, leather seat trim, heated power front seats, dual-zone climate control, power liftgate, rear parking assist, and blind-spot detection. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is included. All-wheel drive is optional ($1,800).
Optima EX V6 ($34,100) substitutes the V6 engine and has three-row seating.
Optima SX V6 ($39,100) adds a panoramic sunroof, 10-speaker Infinity audio, 10-way power driver's seat, 19-inch wheels, and navigation with an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
Optima SX-L Limited V6 ($44,400) comes with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, surround-view camera, xenon headlights, and Nappa leather.